Woke up this morning to an email from Twitter telling me that I missed a highlight from yesterday: a tweet reading, ‘i need some new NFTs. NFT artists, please shill me.’ A lowlight if I’ve ever seen one. But it’s been a slow news day. And so, thusly, I embarked on my journey into that sunless corner of the web, Shill Twitter.
Some light digging revealed that this voluntary open call for self-harm, in fact, appears to be web3 influencer best practice. Maybe they’re just doing it for the engagement. Maybe it’s the closest thing web3 has to a comprehensive discovery platform — until ours takes off, obviously. Or maybe all the blockchain nonsense has been one big performance art piece and we’re irl Truman Burbankis. (Unless you’re all in on it, too, and existence is one big joke being played on me. Which. Checks out.)
The only way to know for sure would be to scan through 1,000 generative profile picture links and compare them to each influencer’s wallets to see if even those soliciting them are really buying these things. Too masochistic for my blood. However, some casual meandering in the comment section while I debated whether 10:00 in the morning was too soon to crack a cold one did get my mind turning about an underreported dimension to the appeal of NFTs.
We’ve already debunked most of the common criticisms: you can’t Right-Click-Save the immutable string of numbers and virtual symbolic status that degens are really paying for; it doesn’t matter if you think paying $2k in fake Internet money is ridiculous because people are willing to do it anyway; etc. No matter the memes, it’s fairly well documented at this point how much money gets thrown at the Internet’s fanciest JPGs. But equally bizarre — and far less talked about — are the grown men, women, and everything between who proudly promote them. Like what sort of degenerative nervous system disorder would you have to have to publicly tweet this? (Warning: NSFW.)
It’s a disease I will henceforth refer to as syph-shill-is. The sole symptom is addiction to selling shit you know is worthless and still getting someone to enthusiastically buy it. We’ve seen it in snake oil salesmen, slim tea influencers, pop psychologists, and court magicians living it up turning literal piss into gold. Is the easy money a draw of this lifestyle? Sure. But to proudly shill Alpha Dicks, there needs to be more.
We crave validation. Like, physiologically. The human mind is disproportionately occupied with trying to convince others our perspective is objectively correct, despite overwhelming evidence that every facet of existence is subject to the lens through which it is viewed, and the only true constant is the sameness across all living things we deny endemically. Almost any of us would happily ignore all of the above in favor of someone telling us, ‘you’re right.’ And, failing that, we want someone who will tell us ‘everyone else is wrong except me’, so we can know what perspective to adopt.
Syph-shill-is is simply one manifestation of this tendency. Getting someone to assign monetary value to your idea is a power trip. If it’s a bad idea? Even better — the inherent value, you can tell yourself, is actually just you. And if said idea is a MS Paint picture of a purple penis? Pure Freudian ego fuel.
I only know this because I have syph-shill-is too. We all do. I’ve been drafting the pitch deck for our Prestige-Worldwide-esque shell company the past week. Turns out, figuring out how to sell investors on a pipe dream is more fun than when El Prof literally tells me to work on whatever I want. Because, aside from being right, what is there to want in life? I’m serious. I want to be told. Shill me… before I shill you.